Trump may need to negotiate health care compromise, as many Republicans still have doubts

Senate Republicans are openly expressing various hesitations about the Affordable Care Act replacement bill

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published March 9, 2017 1:10PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Earlier this week, Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Rob Portman of Ohio wrote a public letter opposing the House GOP's American Health Care Act for its gutting of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. That was apparently a mere foreshadowing of the internal opposition to the Obamacare repeal legislation that has been brewing within the Republican Party.

But even though the bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and will enter the House Floor, there's no indication that Republicans are on the same page.

The bill has currently met opposition from both the moderate and conservative wings of the GOP.

"I think the White House, the administration and the president understand that there's enough conservatives that they can't pass ObamaCare lite," Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told CNN's "New Day" on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine told Yahoo! News on Wednesday that "I do not think it will be well received in the Senate," citing "concerns" about how it would impact Medicaid.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz summed up the prevailing sentiment aptly during a conference call on Wednesday. "The current draft in the House is a draft about which I have significant concerns. As drafted, I do not believe this bill would pass the United States Senate. But I am encouraged and optimistic that we can resolve these differences," Cruz said.

Tom Cotton expressed concerns in a series of tweets Thursday morning.

By contrast, House Speaker Paul Ryan insisted on the Fox News program "Tucker" that he is optimistic about the bill's chances for success, attributing GOP concerns to the fact that the legislation hasn't been modified through budget reconciliation yet. "I don’t really think it is chaos. We spent a year working on the plan," Ryan explained. He later added that "if we put everything in the bill we possibly want, we’d have a filibuster that can’t pass in the Senate."

Although President Donald Trump has kept an uncharacteristically low profile when plugging this bill behind the scenes, he has also made it clear that he is open to negotiating on provisions that its critics dislike, even suggesting that they wait until 2019 so that Obamacare can fail on its own and Democrats can take the blame for it.

Meanwhile, Democrats are labeling the new bill as "Trumpcare" in order to brand its potential unpopularity to the new president.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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American Health Care Act Donald Trump Obamacare Obamacare Repeal Paul Ryan Ted Cruz